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Guidelines for the Swedish Presidency

Guidelines for the Swedish Presidency

Speech given by Dr. Bjorn von Sydow, Minister for Defence, to the Assembly of Western European Union on 18 June 2001.

Mr Chairman, honourable guests and parliamentarians,  

I am delighted to have this opportunity to discuss European security and defence policy with you. The fact that these issues are being accorded high priority also within the Assembly of the WEU is, I believe, a natural consequence of the rapid growth of the European security and defence dimension.  

Openness and transparency in work, processes and decisions are keywords for the Swedish Presidency. We have endeavoured to engage in an open dialogue with representatives of the Assembly, not the least through its Committee for Foreign and Defence Issues when visiting Stockholm earlier this spring. My visit here today is a further indication of the importance, which the Presidency attaches to open and broad contacts with relevant countries and organizations also outside the Union framework.

A few days ago, the European Council met in Göteborg to review the outcome of our work over the past six months and to draft guidelines for the Union's future development. I would therefore like to give you an overview of the results, which we have achieved with regard to European security and defence policy, with special emphasis on military issues.  

The EU is essentially a peace project. It represented the response to incessant war in Europe. Today, war between the EU Member States is unthinkable. That is, and must be a fundamental cornerstone to be preserved also in the light of the Union's contacts with other countries, whether aspiring for membership in the Union or not. However, we are still faced with the complex and many times delicate issue of having to deal with crises, conflicts and catastrophes of various kinds and duration in the world around us. That was the reason why, at the 1996 Intergovernmental Conference, Finland and Sweden proposed that the EU should build on its fundamental peace preservation role by incorporating the Petersberg tasks into the Union - an initiative that helped develop a European security and defence policy. Since the Saint-Malo declaration and the Cologne, Helsinki, Feira and Nice Summits in particular, the EU has continually increased its ability to prevent, manage and resolve crises in accordance with the principles of the UN Charier taking into account the primary responsibility of the Security Council for international peace and security.  

A very important contribution to the building and development of a solid and reliable European Security and Defence Policy has been made through the possibility of using the work already done in a meritorious way by the WEU on many areas - such as the definition of the Petersberg tasks, the scenarios used for identifying necessary capabilities and the Audit of assets and capabilities. During the Swedish Presidency, work has been initiated on the transfer of two very important WEU functions to the EU - the Satellite Center and the Institute for Security Studies. Hopefully this work can now be completed during the Belgian Presidency.  

Many of today's conflicts call for multifunctional efforts at political, military,  humanitarian and civilian levels. Under the Swedish Presidency, the EU has taken a significant step in that direction. Progress has been made in terms of both military and civilian crisis management capabilities. In the military sphere, work has focused on developing military structures and capacities. At civilian level,  special priority has been given to the objective of ensuring that Member States can deploy up to 5000 police officers in international efforts by 2003. Specific capacity objectives have also been developed with regard to the rule of law, civil administration and civil protection. Furthermore, it is crucial that the EU should be able to make an effective contribution towards conflict prevention. For that reason, I am pleased to announce that the Göteborg European Council is expected to adopt a European Program for the Prevention of Violent Conflicts. In addition, during the Swedish Presidency, the EU has laid the foundations for an intensified political dialogue with the UN. The question of how the UN and the EU can strengthen each other in the field of crisis management and conflict prevention is given priority within the framework of continued cooperation.  

The EU has enormous potential for using its resources and instruments in a coordinated fashion in order to prevent conflicts and manage any crises that may arise. The EU's crisis management capabilities must therefore be viewed in their entirety. Even now, the civilian aspects interface at many levels with the military aspects. At the same time, the EU clearly has to develop closer and more intensive cooperation between the civilian and military aspects of crisis management. The Presidency has endeavoured to lay the foundations for a dialogue in that connection, not least through the seminar on civil-military coordination held in Ystad in April.  

I will now focus primarily on the military aspects of EU crisis management, although I am of course willing to return to other issues in the course of our discussion.  

The Nice European Council set the objective of making the EU's crisis management capabilities operational as quickly as possible. A decision to that end will be taken at the Laeken European Council in December at the latest. The preparatory work necessary to achieve this objective has also been the overall aim of the Swedish Presidency. While military and civilian capacities constitute the cornerstones of that work, other components are also needed in order to build up an ability to undertake operations.  At military level, there are five main tasks to achieve:  

  • to develop and exercise the crisis management structures and procedures  
  • to present a policy and a program for the EU's exercise activities  
  • to follow up the French capabilities commitment conference and to present a mechanism for development of military capacity (a "review mechanism")  
  • to develop cooperation between the EU and NATO  
  • to develop cooperation between the EU and third countries.  

We have already made considerable progress in fulfilling those objectives. Crisis management structures have been established and procedures devised. During the spring, the crisis management structures i.e. the Political and Security Committee (PSC), the Military Committee (EUMC) and the EU Military Staff (EUMS) were transformed from interim into permanent structures. In order to ensure that the structures and procedures function properly, they must be tested. The exercise policy and exercise program adopted by the Council in May thus constitute important tools for enhancing the EU's ability to undertake operations, both civilian and military. The policy provides a framework defining the overall aims of the exercises and explains how they will be carried out in such a way as to satisfy the operational and political objectives laid down by the EU. The program covers the years 2001-2006 and includes both intra-EU and joint EU-NATO exercises.  

The possibility for observers from the EUMS to follow on a day-to-day basis the Joint Exercise Study 2001 is much helpful in this respect.  

The main challenge facing the EU Member States is to develop capacities available  for EU crisis management. With regard to military aspects, the Helsinki Headline  Goal still holds well: by 2003, the EU must be able to deploy a joint military force  of 60 000 men within 60 days for at least one year. When the EU Ministers of Defence met in Brussels last November, each country announced which contribution it would be willing to put to EU's disposal. Participants included not only the EU Member States, but also the countries candidates for accession to the EU and other non-EU European NATO members. Since the capabilities commitment conference, work has focused on further developing military resources as required and on how the objective can be achieved. With the help of NATO military experts, Member States' national experts have defined the shortfall between military requirements and national contributions already announced. The results have been compiled in a document called the Helsinki Progress Catalogue (HPC). That work will form the basis for the next capabilities commitment conference planned for November.   

The development of the EU's military capacity formed the focal point of the informal meetings of Ministers for Defence held on 6 April and 14 May. The discussions were directed primarily at those areas in which the EU has insufficient capabilities: the strategic capabilities. This relates to the areas defined also in the WEU audit of assets: strategic transport, strategic intelligence, military command and control, but also logistics. How will future work be prioritized? Which shortfalls should be dealt with first? These are crucial questions, which are only now being examined in Member States' capitals. It was also stressed that a  properly functioning crisis management capability requires a restructuring of  national defence forces - something that to a large extent, is already taking place.   

Work has also focused on elaborating the details concerning a mechanism for the  future development and review of the EU's military crisis management resources.  We have decided to call that mechanism the Capabilities Development Mechanism.  We are endeavoring to reach agreement on this mechanism during the Swedish Presidency, aiming to avoid unnecessary duplication and to reach a maximum  degree of transparency between the EU and NATO.   

EU/NATO cooperation constitutes an important aspect of the development of the EU's crisis management capabilities. At the beginning of the Swedish Presidency, arrangements were put in place for consultations and cooperation between the EU and the Alliance. The success of the cooperation that has been witnessed in the Western Balkans has shown that EU/NATO cooperation functions well in practice. The EU and NATO have conducted an intensive dialogue with parties in FYROM and southern Serbia, and are making targeted efforts to reduce tensions in the region in the long term. On a proposal from the Presidency, the EU has dispatched thirty unarmed observers from the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) to the Presevo valley in southern Serbia. Through KJFOR, NATO has undertaken to guarantee the observers' safety. Working in close cooperation, the EU observers and KFOR have monitored both the withdrawal of Serb forces in the ground safety zone and the disarming of the Albanian rebel groups. This is an excellent example of the conflict prevention instrument, which the EU has at its disposal. The mere presence of international staff in the area is helping to reduce conflict.   

However, the important question of what military resources NATO can make available to the EU - the "Berlin plus" arrangement - remains unanswered. Intense consultations are being held to resolve this issue.   

ESDP is an open and inclusive project. The EU attaches particular importance to close cooperation with the six non-EU European NATO members, and with the EU's candidate countries. Nice established a generous framework for the EU's relations with those countries, and during our Presidency we have made every effort to give substance to those arrangements. On the military side, cooperation has primarily been directed towards following up and documenting those countries' contributions to EU crisis management. This was also the focus of the informal ministerial meetings held with those countries on 15 May.   

Dialogue with other potential partners is also an important part of the development of ESDP. This applies not least to Russia. Russia is of major importance for the future of the whole of Europe, and we have worked hard for enhanced cooperation between the EU and Russia. In the ESDP area, discussions should center on how Russia can contribute in a crisis management context and on how the institutional framework should be implemented. Similar dialogue is under way with other potential partners such as Ukraine and Canada.   

Thus we are well on the way to making the EU's crisis management capacity operational. The EU is gradually increasing its capacity to manage crises. At the informal meeting of Ministers for Defence on 14 May, there was agreement that the Union's crisis management capacity should be declared operational at the latest at the meeting of the European Council in Laeken. While the crisis management capacity is being built, we the Defence Ministers believe that the Union's ability to undertake operations should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. 

However, we already know that the EU can make a significant contribution. In the Western Balkans, the Union has shown that it can act in a united, strong and forceful fashion. The difficult situation in the Western Balkans is an indication of the need to make a broad response to crises. Diplomacy and military efforts must be linked with economic cooperation, aid and trade. The EU's potential lies in this broad range of instruments. In this context, the EU can and should make use of the extensive experience gained from WEU-led operations like WEUDAM and MAPE. MAPE for having achieved significant results appreciated and acknowledged by the Albanian authorities. Through its presence in Albania, MAPE has also supported the efforts of the international community aimed at restoring security and stability in the region. The EU appreciates and acknowledges efforts made by WEU on the successful implementation of both MAPE and WEUDAM and the experts who have served in these missions. Both being recognized as extremely useful and successful operations in Albania and Croatia respectively.   

Honourable Members,   

As I said in the opening remarks of this address - openness and transparency are keywords for the Swedish Presidency. We need an active and open dialogue with our fellow citizens, not least in questions involving security and defence policy. Access to information is decisive in this respect. The new EU-regulation on public access to the Council's, the Commission's and the European Parliament's documents, recently adopted by the Council and the Parliament is therefore to be regarded as a breakthrough.   

At the informal meeting of Defence Ministers on 14 May, my colleagues and I discussed the question of dialogue with the public as regards crisis management. We agree that openness is a precondition for our work to develop the EU's crisis management capacity. We should strive to achieve as wide a debate as possible with our citizens, with the aim of explaining our underlying motives. The continuation of dialogue with relevant countries and organizations on the development of the ESDP is evidently needed in this respect. 

Thank you for your attention. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions on what I have expressed here today or the development in general of the ESDP within the European Union.  


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).